Susan Kim

Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing Program
Residency Site: Port Townsend WA



Susan Kim writes for television, theatre, fiction, nonfiction, film, and graphic novel. She has been the story editor/head writer on dozens of animated TV series. With husband Laurence Klavan, she wrote the young adult fiction trilogy, Wasteland. With Klavan, she also wrote two graphic novels: City of Spies (artwork by Pascal Dizin) and Brain Camp (artwork by Faith Erin Hicks).  As a playwright, Kim wrote the stage adaptation of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, as well as The Arrangement, Where It Came From, Open Spaces, and the book to the musicals Merlin’s Apprentice (with Stephen Cole & Matthew Ward) and Allison Under the Stars (with Zina Goldrich and Marcie Heisler). One-acts include Memento Mori, Pandora, Dreamtime for AliceRapid Eye Movement, Seventh Word Four Syllables, and Death and the Maiden. She wrote the nonfiction book Flow: the Cultural Story of Menstruation, with graphic designer Elissa Stein. She has been nominated for the Emmy six times, the Writers Guild Award four times, and won the 1996 Writers Guild Award for Best Documentary for PBS’ Paving the Way. She received her BA in English and in theatre from Wesleyan University.


BA in English and Theatre, Wesleyan University


  • Dramatic Writing
  • TV Writing
  • Graphic Novel
  • Fiction
  • Young Adult

Personal Statement

A screenwriter I know calls himself a “swan” since he writes only esoteric, literary films. I’m more of a mongrel. Over my professional life, I’ve written one-act plays, young adult fiction, documentary film, short stories, children’s theatre, musicals, animation, graphic novels, TV specials, nonfiction prose, and screenplays. These are distinct forms with their own rules, processes, and demands. Yet each relies on the same basics of storytelling: structure, character, conflict, and stakes. And this informs how I teach.

You can’t write without understanding these fundamentals. At the same time, writing is unique and idiosyncratic, informed by not only technical demands but also imagination, taste, psychology, and world view. Yes, good writing demands aptitude. More importantly, it also requires discipline, openness, and patience. As a teacher, I encourage personal expression while reinforcing the discipline of craft. I help students identify and clarify their voice and the story they’re trying to tell. At the same time, I support the basic tools of writing and how to use (and sometimes subvert) them. How do you shape a play or a story? How do you maximize the potential of a graphic novel, stage play, TV pilot, or collection of stories? I encourage my students to engage in a deep and meaningful way with their reading lists and to read closely, the way all writers do – for reading is ultimately the best teacher. Lastly, I try to empower all my students to open up to the vast creative potential within them and to help them find its best expression.


  1. GuardiansHarperTeen2015
  2. WanderersHarperTeen2014
  3. WastelandHarperTeen2013
  4. Brain Camp by Susan Kim
    Brain Camp (with Laurence Klavan)First Second Books2010
  5. City of SpiesFirst Second Books2010
  6. Flow: The Cultural History of MenstruationSt. Martin's Press2008
  7. The Joy Luck Club (Adaptation of the novel by Amy Tan)Dramatists Play Service2008
  8. Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the HolocaustAnker Productions2005
  9. The Meaning of FoodPie in the Sky Productions2005
  10. Memento Mori (Play)Ensemble Studio Theatre2003
  11. Dreamtime for AliceEnsemble Studio Theatre1999
  12. Paving the WayJVD Productions1996